Archive for the 'heart rate' Category

In terms of recovery, the birth of a child must rank among the biggest of body traumas requiring adequate rest. It was reported this week that Paula Radcliffe has already resumed running just over two weeks since the birth of her first child.

This might not be so bad, but in continuing the theme of a bias to overtrain and under-recover, this article notes the experience of 1987 10,000m World Champion and serial marathon winner Ingrid Kristensen, from whom Paula reportedly sought advice:-

“Speaking earlier this year, Kristiansen admitted that she had done too much, too soon. She added: ‘I think Paula can come back in really good shape for the Beijing Olympics but she has to be patient. I did a little bit too much.’”

My own recovery seems to be going just fine. A virus is not a baby, after all. I ran intervals today, for the first time pushing the pace element to one-minute. I did this four times, then a four minute break, then another four times. As for recovery between intervals, instead of measuring by time, which I have done in the past, I followed the Bath University Human Performance Centre advice and waited until my heart rate had fallen to the recovery zone. Interestingly, the first several recoveries took a full minute, but thereafter the recovery rate improved to about 40-50 seconds.

Having pushed my heart-rate up to over 170 bpm, albeit briefly several times, it has left me tired, although with a sense of neurological adaptation. The post-run recovery feels quite different, more uplifting than a normal run.

Resting Heart Rate 46

Weight 71 kg

Mood :-)

Exercise Energy Consumed 575 kcal (35 mins interval/fartlek run, 10 mins bike)

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Recovering from a virus, I was advised by an expert friend to do two or three gentle 5k+ runs, before increasing intensity or distance. In the past I’ve always come out of illness like a bull at a gate, trying to catch up for lost time. Now my strategy is all patience. The fact that I’ve lost three weeks, actually means the return should be even more gradual.

Claire Lane, who conducted my maximal test at the Bath University Human Performance Centre, also advised that if my heart rate rose beyond the appropriate zone I should ease back, to ensure that exercise remained appropriate for my conditioning or the training schedule.

I’ve not been good at this, because sometimes it seems to involve running uncomfortably slowly. There is always a tendency to push too hard, because we are driven to believe we must be making an effort: “If it isn’t hurting, it isn’t working”. Only last Friday I ran up a hill, pushing my heart rate up to 163 bpm, when it should have been no higher than 149, especially considering that it was the first day I was not sick. But the past couple of days, I’m starting to get the hang of it.

It is just intuitive to run up a hill. However, the advice not to is echoed by Tony Hope, of heart rate monitor firm Polar. He says that when using their OwnZone function (not available on my model, unfortunately) the watch will indicate you should stop and walk if the intensity of the workout, or hill, is judged potentially injurious. Their latest models can judge the variability in the interval between each heart beat to determine exactly how fit or recovered the body is (even within a workout) and advise accordingly. The Polar site has good information for recovering runners, although the examples for a virus do not cover a period as long as three weeks.

So this week, when I have been trying to keep below 149 bpm, I have stopped and walked more and more if there was an incline that was raising the heart. It is a strange discipline to acquire, but one I’ll need to learn more about as I’m trying to pursue a recovery, rather than work, based approach to training. UK Sport has a useful document on RBT.

Resting Heart Rate 50

Weight 71.5 kg

Mood :-)

Exercise Energy Consumed 797 kcal (7k run, 10 mins bike)

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It did start to feel like it would never end. I’d begun to regard a heart rate above 50 as normal. I can’t recall when I’ve sustained such a measurement for such a long period. I was rewarded for not training yesterday: my resting heart rate this morning fell back to 47 beats per minute, indicating the passing of the virus. I suspect it could still go a little lower, as I didn’t have enough sleep.

Over three weeks of no exercise, my weight only drifted up a couple of pounds. Even so, I was eating a lot. Over the past few days, it seems to be moving in the other direction. From 73 kg (161 lbs) last week, my rather imprecise scales are now leaning the other side of 72 kg (159 lbs.) Following on from the BBC’s Truth about Food programme and its revelation that the calcium in dairy products like yoghurt drain fat from food, I’ve started eating quantities after some meals. I’ve also gone back to porridge and honey for breakfast – classic marathoner’s food and a staple of Paula Radcliffe. It certainly has left me full in the morning, even in the recent cold weather, so no need for a couple of pieces of buttered toast and marmalade. The Christmas cake is now but a small, drying triangle, and so much easier to overlook at coffee time.

I’m nervous about losing weight, and the Bath University Human Performance Centre staff warned me not to pay too much attention to it on a daily basis – I guess they’re only too familiar with the danger of obsessiveness in this area. I’m not particularly heavy. But my VO2 Max, or capacity to pump oxygen around the body, will certainly improve for marathon purposes if I dropped some weight. Combining that with higher intensity training looks risky. Two pounds in a week is probably a little too much to lose, and may be a case of more noise than signal, likely to even out on a week-to-week basis. But I’m happy eating lots of fruit, smoothies, pulses and organic meat.

Resting heart rate 47

Weight 72 kg

Mood :-)

Total exercise energy consumed 568 kcal (5k jog, 10 mins bike)

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I was not a happy camper this morning. After 17 days of virus, with some signs of improvement, I woke up with a splitting headache and a heart rate conservatively estimated at 58 bpm. This was not quite as acute as a bad migraine, but lasted all day. Ron Hill would have put in two miles at least. I could barely make it to the bathroom. I doubled up on paracetamol and ibuprofen for the first time ever, and for a migraine sufferer that’s saying something.

The good news is that by the end of the day it seems to be over. And the upper-respiratory tract infection looks like it has shifted too. But this leaves me effectively three weeks behind my training schedule, nevermind the effect it has had on my work.

Resting heart rate 58

Weight 73 kg

Mood :-(

Sick with virus (day long severe headache, nauseous) clearing by nightfall

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How in touch are you with what your heart is telling you? In exercise, probably the best information you can get is from your heart. Heart rate reveals exertion, stress, infection, rate of recovery.

Every morning when you awake, it is possible to find out a lot about how the day might be, and how to organize it, if you were just to measure your resting heart rate. That can include work, exercise and leisure. If your resting heart rate is raised above its normal, that can be a warning signal. You might be suffering from stress, or still recovering from hard exercise in the previous couple of days.

It can also be a warning sign before other symptoms that you have caught a virus. Skip a meal, work too hard that day, exercise too vigorously, or go out in the evening when you should stay home, and what might have just been a sniffle could lay you up for a few days, or lead to a more debilitating injury.

When it comes to a training schedule for a marathon or half-marathon, you will find that the best will often refer to different exercise bands or zones as a percentage of your maximum heart rate.

Finding out your maximum heart rate can be approximated for free, but is best done by visiting a sports performance clinic, like the one at Bath University. For a little less than £100, you’ll get the same kind of information about your physiology that world-class athletes require, and you’ll be using the same facilities used by greats like Olympic hurdler Colin Jackson. If it sounds like a lot of money, realise that it may save you a lot in the long-run. It might just reveal some hidden talent, a possibility I’ll deal with in the next post.

The so-called long run started in earnest today. This is to build up my stamina and endurance, in other words get me used to spending a lot of time on my legs to last the three to four hours I expect my participation in the Flora London Marathon to last.

From here on I’ll be posting my vital resting and exercising statistics at the foot of each blog entry. I hope they’ll prove a useful training aid.

Resting Heart Rate 48

Weight 72 kg

Mood :-)

Total exercise energy burned 1037 kcal, 10 mins bike, 1:08 hours run

Discomfort in left foot after 20-30 minutes, apparently associated with earlier tendon injury

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